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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Uninsured at risk, even in the hospital

If you had to choose between making car payments and visiting the doctor, which would you choose? What about if you had to choose between saving up for your children’s college tuition or paying for an expensive check-up out of your own pocket?

Americans around the country have found themselves in tight spots like these time and time again in our health care system. Uninsured middle-class Americans make difficult decisions about their future and their health, all while carefully monitoring their bank account to make sure they can make ends meet.

So in order to cut costs and save money, uninsured Americans often end up delaying care when they get sick or skipping necessary medication. In the short term, this may save them money, but in the long-term what really suffers is their health.

A new report found that even when the uninsured do end up in the hospital seeking care, they’re more at risk than those who are insured. According to the New York Times,

…even after they have heart attacks or strokes and are admitted to hospitals, the uninsured are more likely to die than those who carry private insurance.

The rest of the results are even scarier,

The study found that uninsured patients who had heart attacks were 52 percent more likely to die in the hospital than the privately insured, and those who had a stroke were 49 percent more likely to die in the hospital.

As a recent Families USA report points out, one out of every three Americans has been uninsured for some point from 2007-2008. And those staggering numbers came out before the recession dumped more people into the ranks of the uninsured.

For the uninsured, it’s a vicious cycle. They often can’t afford preventive services or check-ups when necessary, and end up sicker when they finally do seek care. Hard-working middle class Americans deserve better than that. They deserve to know that when they get sick, they’ll be able to access affordable health care–both for the sake of their bank accounts and their quality of life.